Donald Gordon Flom, 96, passed peacefully from this world on May1, 2021 under the compassionate care of Eventide Fargo staff and Ethos Hospice Care.
Donald was born on May 8, 1924 in Kenyon, MN to parents Martin and Ida (Dalbotten) Flom. The youngest of seven siblings, his education began in a three-room schoolhouse, district 54, in Kenyon. He graduated from Kenyon High School in the spring of 1941. He was recruited to attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, Mn by Ansgar Sovik, the Assistant Dean of Men St. Olaf, while he was out working a team of horses in one of his family’s farm fields. St. Olaf was a wonderful fit for him. It not only had an excellent science department, but also the renowned St. Olaf Choir. Donald was able to explore both his love of science and his passion for music. He received a BA in Chemistry from St. Olaf College in 1944. After acquiring this degree, Don enlisted in the Navy and served as an Ensign on the USS Los Angeles (CA-135). After completing his service with the Navy, he enrolled at Purdue University to continue his education. He received an MS in Physical Chemistry from Purdue in 1949 and went on to receive a PHD in Physical Chemistry from Penn State College in 1952.
Donald began his career at the GE Research Laboratory in 1951 in Schenectady, NY. He transferred to GE’s Space Sciences Laboratory in 1961. He was responsible for the study and development of new materials for use in missiles and space vehicles, including thermal shields, structural composites and adhesives. He was the founder and first chairman, in 1962, of the Gordon Conference on Tribology. Donald retired from GE in 1987. In 1996, the Tribology Conference established the “Donald G. Flom Award” to be presented at each succeeding conference to the person making the best contribution for that year.
The other passion in Don’s life was music. He always said that he learned how to sing before he learned how to talk thanks mostly to his very musical siblings. His first quartet was formed at the tender age of 10. In 1951, Don joined the Barbershop Harmony Society and was active in quartets, choruses, vocal coaching and judging. In 1973 he became the Northeastern district Contest and Judging Chairman. He was named International Contest and Judging Chairman in 1976-77. He continued to judge contests until 1995. Don was named Northeastern District Barbershopper of the year in 1988 and Mountain Division Barbershopper of the year in 1999. His love of music has influenced his children and grandchildren. The love of harmony was his gift and it has been embraced by so many in his family.
Don’s family was the foundation of his life. He met and married Janice Williams in 1957. Another blessing that came from that union was Janice’s son, Morgan. Morgan and Donald were bonded from the start and there was never any doubt how proud he was of his adopted son. They shared a wonderful sense of humor. Don and Janice soon added two daughters, Kristin and Megan, to the family. Donald was beloved by his children and grandchildren for his kindness, easy laugh, strength and never-ending support. He was the best example of a loving parent and grandparent.
Don was preceded in death by his parents, Martin and Ida; wife, Janice; son, Morgan; daughter, Megan; sister, Anne; brothers, Arnold, Oscar, Maurice, Kenneth and Melvin. He is survived by his daughter, Kristin (Jeff) Flom-Johnson of West Fargo, ND; six grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at Holden Lutheran Church, Kenyon, MN at 10:00am on May 22nd. The family respectfully requests that all those in attendance wear a mask and observe Covid-19 safety precautions.
In Lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Barbershop Harmony Society or your local Humane Society.
West Funeral Home & Life Tribute Center
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